The experts have strongly recommended a temporary ban on gatherings of groups larger than 10 for the next two months.
Significantly, it did not recommend a blanket national or state lockdown, as opposed to localised, phased restrictions or closures.
As per the preliminary review of the report, “while the pandemic has spread, the geographic contours of the second wave closely mirror those of the first wave, though with a deeper penetration into tier-2 and tier-3 cities.”
The 20 member expert panel has said that the second wave is different from the first wave in September 2020. “The rate of increase in new cases is significantly higher. The increase from 10,000 to 80,000 new cases per day from February to April has taken less than 40 days. In September, this journey took 83 days,” it said.
The report said that many cases testing positive are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, resulting in relatively low rates of hospitalisation and mortality.
The report, titled “Managing India’s second COVID-19 wave: Urgent steps”, underlines the key elements of the second Covid-19 wave. It also suggests measures that should be taken now to help mitigate the spread of infection.
The report says that disruptions to regular health services, such as routine immunisation and delivery care, could have devastating consequences for maternal and child survival.
Fiscally, India may need to spend more than $7.8 billion on testing and $1.7 billion on healthcare utilisation due to Covid-19 infections leading to death by September 2021.
Experts suggest an accelerated vaccination drive to combat the spread of Covid-19. “We endorse the target of 5 million daily doses and recommend,” it said.
According to the experts, all adults, including those below 45, with severe co-morbidities into the priority population group, adults with severe co-morbidities (for example, obesity, cancer, cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, renal/kidney failure, pulmonary disease, and HIV infection) are at particular risk to severe Covid-19 and related hospitalisation.
“We recommend that the Government identify a list of critical co-morbidities that allow adult patients with serious medical conditions (like tuberculosis) access to the Covid-19 vaccines,” it said.